Our Disappearing Heritage along Western Canada Roadways!

Old Building in Alberta

I felt a pang, no, a pain, that swept through me in an instant as I beheld the old decrepit building with its weathered facade and its old-fashioned architectural detals.  The pain was one of nostalgia, a yearning of things long gone, things that made my childhood magical, things that most children will never understand in today’s fast food world.

Except for my grandkids.

As long as I can walk and talk, as long as I can get into a car, and pack them along with me, my grandchildren will be introduced to my past, my heritage — a heritage in danger of disappearing altogether under the pressures of weather, urban sprawl, industry, and . . . time.

Read on . . .

As a child, I investigated many, many old houses that dotted the railway tracks that ran back of our house.  So, old houses, located in rural Canada, hold an instant attraction for me.  The one showing above was discovered along Hwy 39 West in Alberta.

Em-Te Town Outlaws

We had spent a couple of days roughing it in Em-Te Town, an 1800s replica Western town and campsite.  It was fun, but it was contrived.  This old farm house was real.  And what we discovered inside was even more real.

The house had been home to a squatter who looked like he left either in a hurry or by reason, not of his own choosing.  All papers and magazines strewn about the pigeon-poop-filled place, were dated 1975.  But were it not for the filth, the humble home seemed to have suited the man (it was a man – his Sunday clothes, his boots, his shoes, and his workclothes were everywhere) who once lived there, probably with no one’s knowledge, or permission.

Deserted workclothes in old farm house

(The white stuff is not paint – it’s years and years worth of pigeon poop.)

The old home still had some of its appliances like this old wood stove Photo by Sheree Zielke, and the old wood-burning furnacePhoto by Sheree Zielke.

The house was easily accessed as someone else had kicked in the door panels, and most of the window panes were broken.  But the kids learned to step lightly and look before they stepped.  Boards with nails sticking up, broken glass, unseen critters, and weak floorboards — all things I learned to watch out for as a kid.  So, our tour through this time tunnel was without mishap.

Window on the world by Sheree Zielke

Before we left, I stood and looked out one of the bedroom windows, a room with a sad old mouse-eaten mattress, lots of old magzines, and men’s clothing, and I wondered what a person might have seen through this window, over 30 years ago.  And I wondered who the house originally belonged to, what children played here, what grandparents died here, and who called this sad old place home.  I wondered, and I nearly wept.  Because I know that in another 30 years, this beautiful ugly decrepit old farm house will not exist.  And what a shame that will be.

If you would like to see more of my photography, and especially my tributes to days gone by, be sure to check out my Flickr site:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/97705796@N00/

Wishing you safe and happy travels,
Sheree Zielke

PS Are you a Baby Boomer with found memories of old “haunted houses” that you once explored as a kid?  Do you feel pain in knowing that a part of your heritage will soon be entirely gone?  Please leave a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.

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2 Responses to “Our Disappearing Heritage along Western Canada Roadways!”

  1. David says:

    What a wonderful article! I agree with you: old houses are magical places. It’s wonderful that you are introducing them to your grandchildren. Wonderful photos and a great story. I look forward to seeing more on this!

  2. The pictures are very clear and nice. I like the backgrounds I remember my childhood, we\\\’re going to my Grandfather\\\’s far. Very unforgetable moment, we\\\’re riding on a boat, feeding the fishes, playing there, and catching fishes.